Avila, Morro Bay and the Hearst Castle – Our 28th

The summer has been busier than usual,  perhaps its the fact that our kids have been doing academic things all summer with Mia in Summer Session at Berkeley and Mark taking 4 days a week of SAT prep.  The summer is over in two weeks with both our kids starting school.    The office is saturated with work and it seems that we skipped an entire season with the late rains of this summer;  so,   Gina and I headed off to our favorite “escape and hide” place located at the La Fonda hotel on Avila Beach, about a three hour drive from our house, for our 28th wedding anniversary.   It seems like yesterday that Gina and I stood together on a 100 degree Nyack,  New York day and exchanged vows in a small non air conditioned Russian orthodox church in front of half our dental school classes.  It has  been a great 28 years and it’s easy to be married to Gina.  I don’t know what the formula is,  but it just works.  She is a great wife, mother and dentist.

To start our weekend, on the day we were to leave,  our daughter got a flat tire in Oakland (murder capital of the world)   trying to transport her boyfriend who was in a near coma state of pneumonia  to our house for some rest and recovery.  Unfortunatly, she never made it  due to a long wait for the Auto Club, and a detour to the Student Health Hospital.  The night before we left, we drove to Berkeley at midnight to pick her up after an exhausting afternoon left her too tired to drive home herself.  I wasn’t looking forward to  leaving for Avila with all the drama to deal with but we left anyways around 2:00pm and got to Avila by 5pm.  We had a great dinner at the Custom House in Avila and finished it off with a bottle of  Sauvignon Blanc from Alapay Cellars.  The Custom House is a nice restaurant right on the beach front and they have a cool live WebCam of Avila Beach that you can point!  If you mention that you are staying at the LaFonda,  you can get 10% off food and drinks at The Custom House,  Hulla Hut and Joe Mommas Coffee Shop.  We booked room 210 which is the only room with a view of the Beach from one of its two terraces.  The room was nice with a kitchen and a big bathtub but it is the only room with a Murphy Bed (which comes out of the wall).  The bed was cozy small and I got use it it the day we left.

The Next Day we toured the Hearst Castle in San Simeon which is 45 minutes from Avila.   We had heard from our friends over the years  that it was a very interesting and entertaining tour.   I  did not feel like I was missing anything all these years we passed up this tour,  since touring a dead rich guys eclectic idea of house design was not really appealing to me.  Yes,  I was jealous .   I couldn’t help thinking to myself that each room was made up of walls, chairs, furnishings and art  that were pillaged from some european church or museum.  It was a mashup of ancient artifacts filled in with faux castle construction to try to blend it all together.     One wall would be  Classic Greek while the ceiling would be from 18th century Spain.    It was like Disneyland with no plan, mixing Frontierland with Tommorrowland in one land.   I must say that it was ostentatious at the very least and it was fun to imagine all those old movie stars hanging out with William Hearst for a weekend party.  Good god, there were Zebras and Polar Bears on the grounds! –shades of Michael Jackson and the Neverland Ranch.   That would explain the bust of Caligula in the entry room.   It was like the architect was making it up as she went along.   It was fact that Hearst kept changing his mind all the time during the castle’s 28 year construction period and in the end it never got finished.   And what is with him separating from his wife after 22 years of marriage, and having an affair with a showgirl who was 30 years younger than him.   My guess is  his midlife crisis involved architecture.   Money messes you up.

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We had a chance to tour Cal Poly.  We had never visited the campus and both Gina and I have come to the conclusion that its one of the best State Campuses in California.  I hope Mark applies and gets in–we can only hope.

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Morro bay was beautiful.  I loved the salmon boats in the harbor with their downriggers and garbage cans on deck for fish.  I think I could do that job.  You can only troll a max of six downriggers by law.  I can imagine the challenge of landing 6 fish all hooked up on the downriggers at the same time when I can hardly handle two.    Too bad the salmon season has been so bad –that makes 4 straight bad seasons in the ocean. Maybe its gone forever?   We looked for a nice restaurant on the wharf and found the  Galley Restaurant  on the wharf which trip advisor rated as #1.   It was a beautiful  restaurant with an excellent view of the harbor.  The staff was nice, but the food was only adequate.  The fish was bland although they do label it as  “naked”  and it was not overcooked.  I guess “naked” means no seasoning and no taste since the halibut tasted exactly like the sole.  Next time we will eat in San Luis Obispo on the way back to Avila.

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